Friday, February 01, 2008

First against the wall, when the Revolution comes

The other day I read this, and I thought, "Yeah, there is a lot of intolerance and hair-trigger hate, going around these days. Where is the 'kumbayah' I was expecting to have shown up, by the time I was 40?"

I commented on Nexy's blog. I like Nexy.

It's frustrating, especially, to hear the Sons' stories from school. These are the people who are going to be running things, when I am dependent on THEM. I'm a bit nervous. I know they're not adults, yet, they're still figuring out who they are, but at this point so much of high school cultchah seems nasty, brutish, intolerant, devoted to the most self-destructive of momentary pleasures, and unwilling to listen to opinions other than those they've already chosen.

Heck, I know, that was the case when I was in school, and things are better, among adults, I think. But still--it bugs me more than I let on, to the Sons.

And then yesterday Son #1 (aka "Jewfro", at school, because he has hair even curlier than mine) brought a photo of the family to school. People had been asking to see his family, and for myriad teen reasons he'd rather bring in a picture, than take them home to meet his actual family in the flesh.

"YOUR MOM IS SO JEWISH! And you look JUST LIKE HER! You are a JEW! JEW! JEW! JEWFRO is a JEW! WOW! And your Dad looks almost as Jewish as your Mom does! Wow! JEW!"

Son #1 tried to explain that his mother's, um, Mediterranean appearance is due to her half-Italian heritage, and that actually his FATHER (of the straight, glossy hair and straight, moderate nose) is 1/4 Jewish, but the crowd would have nothing of it. He is JEWFRO. He and his mother are JEWS. It is obvious, from the dark, curly hair and Mom's big nose.

"JEW! JEW! YOU'RE A JEW!"

This just seemed a little...well, a little scary to me.

I remember in college being good friends with a blonde, blue-eyed woman. Blanche and I went everywhere together, and people knew that one of us was Jewish. And, yes, almost always, people assumed that I was the Jewish one. We found it amusing. But the thing was, people were not POINTING and LAUGHING and SHOUTING at us.

(If you're out there, Blanche Brotman, I still think of you.)

"God's Chosen People" must get damn sick of having a target painted on their heads, all these thousands of years later.

8 comments:

Sue said...

Oh my goodness. I never quite understood how people could 'look' Jewish. I always thought it was just a religion and not a race. or I'm just very naive.

Andrea said...

Don't worry, we're all pink on the inside--HA HA HA.

Remember that dream?

nexy said...

i like you too, christine :)

i grew up in a neighborhood that had a rather large jewish population, yet i still experienced a bit of what you cite in your post. my earliest memory of that sort of thing was being accused of killing jesus by one of the christian boys - i must have been in first or second grade. i had no idea what he was talking about - i never killed anyone.

interestingly enough, i am more often taken as italian than jewish. i see myself as having some pretty stereotypical jewish features, if there are such things. a slight hook to my slightly larger than average-sized nose, curly dark hair (which i feverish straighten every morning and color lighter a few times a year), and my apparently rather strong new york accent. though even while i was living in the new york suburbs, people often thought me italian.

and yes, it's scary to be labeled as different, no matter what that difference is, especially for a child trying to fit in.

Ms. Q said...

I don't blame you for being a bit freaked by all the pointing and laughing and shouting. Eek!

I do know there is a Jewish "look" and the Big Nose is a part of it. However, I know so many people who "don't look Jewish" but ARE that if someone looks Jewish I don't necessarily think they are. If that makes any sense.

This big nose thing makes me think of this guy I dated a long time ago for a very short time - he looked well, really Jewish! He had the Biblical first name, the last name that ended with -witz, dark curling hair and yow, what a schnoze! Big dark soulful eyes. He made me think of tents and deserts. Hey, I was like 22 years old.

Now he's probably be profiled and told to step to the side at the airport security checkpoint.

I never thought much of what being Jewish must mean - my best friend in grade school was Jewish and it was more like, "Oh, you don't celebrate Christmas?" and then learning about what the Menorah was and Hanukkah and not eating pork and not worrying much about the differences. When I learned about anti-Semitism I was shocked.

It's sad to learn that we aren't as far along with peace, love and understanding as we think we are.

There must be something in the air - I just wrote about something related prior to reading this!

Christine said...

Sue-maybe "ethnicity" is more what it is, than "race"...

Andrea- Girl, you remember EVERYTHING. But, yes, I am still pushing for "all pink"

Nexy- In the words of my mother, "Of COURSE Italians and Jews look the same. Do you think those Roman soldiers were just sitting around, on a weekend? There must have been a lot of intermingling"

I am amazed to hear about this "you killed Jesus" stuff. I was raised Catholic, and we never got that.

I am also impressed that you straighten your hair every day. I have to have someplace good to be going, to do that. So much work, and I'm afraid I'm going to burn it all off!

Ms Q- Maybe we bloggers can help bring a little more peace, love & understanding. It's a goal, anyway...

nexy said...

the hair straightening (and eyebrow plucking) is the last vestige of trying to maintain some level of a neat appearance. i don't wear makeup anymore, and haven't for several years now, never do my nails (in fact, there's been grease under them for over a week now after helping my hubby fix his truck), and i haven't shaved my legs since october. it doesn't take long - i just run it through one of those plugin iron thingie for a few minutes. seems to do the trick.

and yummy, roman solders :)

by the way, jews are quite adamant about not interbreeding outside their religion. though i suppose during times of war, that was not always possible.

Christine said...

Nexy-Oh, absolutely, I'm sure most of it was not what we'd call "consensual". I get the impression that occupation by Rome was not a great experience for anyone except, you know, the Romans.

Funny thing--apparently, in my husband's family's case, the Jewish side really didn't have a problem with the mixed marriage. But his Gentile grandmother's family never spoke to her again, because she married a Jewish man.

But, hey, that was 90 years ago.

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Hmmm...I wonder how I managed to miss this one? On a semi-related note (that is related to your mom's comment!) I was totally surprised by how much Italian food there was in Israel! But then actually the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense...